Here’s the scenario: You have been out of treatment for a substance use disorder for a while now. Your recovery journey has not always been easy, but so far you have been able to use the strategies you learned and the resources you gained in residential treatment to stay sober.
That is great news.
And you should feel really good about it. Not overconfident, of course, but each day you maintain your sobriety is a victory worthy of note.
Now that you are sober, you might find it easier to be attentive to what is happening around you—and maybe you have noticed that you seem to be developing a new friendship or even a potential new romantic relationship. Maybe it is because of your newfound confidence or maybe it is just that you are fun to be around when you are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Either way, making new friends—romantic or otherwise—is a great thing, right?
A great thing that is, unless (you knew the unless was coming, right?) your new friend or love interest turns out to be a threat to your sobriety. That is why it is always a good idea to be honest about your recovery status early on in a new relationship.
How New Friendships Can Threaten Your Sobriety
When we say that a new relationship can potentially threaten your sobriety, it is certainly not our intention to suggest that your new friend or crush is some sort of wicked person dedicated to making sure you start using drugs or alcohol again. While there may be people in your life who try to draw you back into substance abuse, those individuals and other toxic relationships are not what we are concerned with here.
Instead, we are thinking of the person who invites you to catch a ballgame with them. Or the flirtatious person who asks you out for dinner. Or the coworker who wants you to come to their backyard barbeque.
That all sounds innocuous enough, right? But ball games, swanky restaurants, and backyard cookouts all tend to have one thing in common: alcohol tends to be readily available.
So, you need a plan when these situations arise with new friends. How will you turn down the beer, the glass of wine, the fruity cocktail? (Note that this question applies even if alcohol was not your drug of choice; you will still want to steer clear of it in recovery.)
The truth is you might be able to handle it in the moment. But in the long run, it would probably be better to let your new friends know that you don’t drink (or do drugs) before you are actually faced with the question of whether you want an adult beverage.
You Do Not Have to Share Every Last Detail With New Friends or Anyone Else
It is important to remember that your story is your own. How much you share about your substance use disorder and recovery—and with whom you share it—is entirely up to you. It may be the case that you are most comfortable simply telling new friends that you don’t drink and leaving it at that.
That said, without a little more information, your new pal may assume they have just discovered the ultimate designated driver. Since being around folks who are drinking can be difficult for a person who is in recovery, you may find that you want to share exactly why you do not drink.
You might even need to set some ground rules about what sorts of social situations you are comfortable with. That might feel scary with a new friend or at the beginning of a new romance, but it is a good strategy for the long run. A person who really wants to be part of your life will understand and support your sobriety.
But again, you are under no obligation to share each and every detail of your struggles with drugs or alcohol. You want to share enough to protect your sobriety—and to establish a relationship built on honesty from the very beginning.
You Can Build a Strong Relationship With Us
At The Aviary Recovery Center, we are always ready to forge a new and productive relationship with someone who needs help overcoming an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Like any good friend, we will listen carefully to ensure we understand your specific needs. Then we will personalize a treatment plan that will form the foundation of your regained sobriety—a foundation you can build on in recovery.
When you are struggling with a substance use disorder, it can feel as though you do not have a friend in the world. We understand why you might feel that way—and we are always here to help.